Most experienced riders know that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car. In Canada, it is estimated that motorcyclists are 15 times as likely to be involved in a crash as car drivers are. And motorcyclists are 13.5 times as likely to be killed in a collision as car drivers are. Many motorcycle accidents can be avoided with consistent road safety vigilance and education. Here are some important safety reminders for experienced riders to keep you riding on the road for many years to come.
Check the weather
This is an important part of planning your motorcycle ride, especially if you are planning a long-distance trip. Check the weather forecast not just at your location, but everywhere you are planning on travelling to. Avoid riding when there are inclement weather conditions and see if the route has places where you can stop in case of emergencies. Certain weather conditions make riding impossible due to a lack of visibility and slippery roads. Get off the road when it starts to pour, as roads can become incredibly slippery the first few minutes after it starts to rain. Avoid making sudden movements and reduce speeds to maintain control. Remember, you are less visible in rain or fog.
Beware of road conditions
Loose gravel, uneven pavement, or debris in the roadway are a few hazards you need to keep an eye on. Sand and salt leftover from the winter can reduce traction, making it harder to control your bike. Gain more traction from riding in the tracks made by the vehicle in front of you. And look out for oil that often collects down the center of a lane. Be mindful of big potholes this time of the year that can heavily impact a motorcycle as opposed to a four-wheel vehicle. Also, be aware of grass clippings and other yard debris on the road that can make for slippery road conditions. Remember, because motorcycles are so much smaller than others and don’t have as much stability, they are more susceptible to unsafe road conditions.
Check your ride
Even if your motorcycle is new, you need to do a basic inspection every time you ride. Check the brakes and make sure they are working correctly. A bike equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS) will allow you to stop with more control. Check your tires for sufficient pressure, adequate tread, and any irregularities or embedded objects. Fluid levels may need a top-up, especially if your motorcycle has not been ridden for a while. Also, check brake lights, turn signals, headlights, and any loose bolts, parts, or mirrors. If you are unfamiliar with where to look for these things, refer to your owner’s manual or get an expert to have a check and give you the green light. Maintaining your motorcycle with regular tune-ups and inspections is important so that when you need it, everything is working right.
Refresh your skills
If it’s been a few years since you have ridden, before jumping on your motorcycle, reacquaint yourself with the basic skills. Find an empty parking lot and practicing low-speed maneuvers and emergency braking. Remind yourself what it feels like to ride on two wheels instead of four. Many experienced riders take a refresher course before hitting the open road, such as our Experienced Riders Course. Our ERC course gives riders a chance to improve their skills and build muscle memory.
Staying safe on the roads is a priority for all road users, including motorcycle drivers. With roads dominated by cars and trucks, as well as road conditions that can change in minutes during any season, staying alert and riding safe need to be top of mind while on your bike.
Earn your Road SMARTS
Road safety is a shared responsibility, regardless of how you use the road. Our friends, family, children, and colleagues are impacted several times daily by road safety. When tragedy strikes, too often we feel powerless in terms of making an impact to prevent further issues. If you would like to get more involved in road safety, we invite you to take the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents can be reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.
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